Aviation Safety Corner

GREETINGS! For this month's topic, I would like to continue discussing, "Set Up For Success." Here's how to make your flying safer, more efficient and more effective. This is Part II of IV.

Now, let's discuss, "Winning Combination." Good setup enhances both effectiveness and efficiency. Good planning and proper setup are winning combinations in anybody's book. To illustrate the point, let's look at a simple stall maneuver and see how to get set up for success. Most of us fly our airplanes within the carefully prescribed c.g. envelopes recommended by their manufacturers. As a result, the nose pitches down when a typical general aviation airplane stalls. Nothing mysterious. It's predictable. The nose drops. Simple as that.

When the wing exceeds critical angle of attack and the center of gravity is ahead of the center of lift, the nose drops. "G" comes ahead of "L" in the alphabet, and we can use that to remember that c.g. must be ahead of "CL." Were the center of gravity not ahead of the center of lift, the aircraft would pitch up when stalled. But it doesn't. It should be no great secret, then that most people have a little difficulty recovering from stalls. All we really do is watch the angle of attack as it decreases and the airplane starts flying again. It happens almost naturally. (Well, maybe we do a little more). The truth is, however, that even if we did nothing, most airplanes would recover by themselves.

Although many pilot operating handbooks (POHs) also call for advancing the throttle(s) to full power, this does nothing other than decrease the amount of altitude lost during stall recovery.

The foregoing explains why people seldom have difficulty recovering from stalls. The real purpose of training in stalls and stall recoveries, as discussed earlier in this article, is not to learn how to stall. The training aims to alert pilots to stall onset, demonstrate the symptoms that accompany it and teach stall avoidance.

Now, let's discuss, "He Who Hesitates…" If stall recovery (as in our example) is as little a problem as I believe it is, then why is there such indecision during most approaches to stalls? Why does it usually take so long to get into the stall? The answer is pretty simple. Generally speaking there is no checklist or pattern to prepare for the maneuver. Every pilot has-or lacks-his or her own method for setup. Most are far too vague. There is no doubt that lack of a systematic setup causes undue apprehension, delay and indecision.

To more fully understand the effect of a failure to set up properly and decisively, review in your mind all the other maneuvers you do. If you don't fly for a living every day, are you hesitant when you set up? Probably so. If you find that to be the case, ask why. You may find it's from lack of a plan-an organized, sure-fire way to enter maneuvers or transition from one task to another while ensuring that important things get done effectively and efficiently, and that something important doesn't "fall through the cracks."

While many things are more easily said than done, setup for practice or check ride maneuvers is easy if you have a system. All it takes is a little planning, forethought, organization and mental preparation.

Try this: Trigger each maneuver with a checklist. For example, why not use the "Before Landing" checklist as a "Maneuver Checklist"? For every airplane, there's a "Before Landing" checklist included in the POH. It contains all the elements necessary to prepare the airplane for landing-statistically one of the most hazardous phases of flight. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Just adapt your aircraft's "Before Landing" checklist for whatever situation you're about to enter. Use it as a "Maneuver Checklist."

Now, in conclusion, remember if you find that you hesitate when setting up for a maneuver, ask why. You may find it's from lack of a plan-an organized, sure-fire way to enter maneuvers or transition from one task to another, while ensuring that important things get done effectively and efficiently, and nothing "falls through the cracks."

Don't miss next month's Aviation Safety Corner; "Set Up for Success." We'll discuss, "Triple-C,E,R." and "Clearing SWAT" in Part III of IV.

Larry G. Harmon

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